While NFL Goes To London, Lines Up Fan Duel, Palumbo Says Hearing Coming
On Friday came the announcement that DraftKings, now with a UK gaming license in place, signed a multi-year deal with the NFL for promoting its London games, a city where gambling is legal and betting lines on this Sunday’s matchup will be front and center with bookmakers, right alongside The Premier League and the Rugby World Cup .
According to the a press release, Draft Kings will host events outside of Wembley Stadium prior to all three games, with additional events at Trafalgar Square on Saturday, October 3 and on Regent Street on Saturday, October 24. At these events, fans can take part in a series of American football skills challenges to win merchandise, prizes and money-can’t-buy experiences.
And of course, DraftKings advertising will also appear during the broadcast of NFL games on Sky Sports TV in the United Kingdom.
This latest announcement again shows the changing landscape, especially with the massive marketing dollars being spent right now by DFS. As of this weekend, 28 of the league’s 32 teams are partnered with either DraftKings or FanDuel and FanDuel sponsors a regular segment at NFL.com. Is the NFL now more aligned because of the dollars and the increasing fan interest? Or are we still in the originally proposed one year review period, with deals and investments now going well beyond what seems like a trial period?
What is clear is that DFS and the NFL is front and center, and those one year” look and see” deals the NFL have imposed will be escalating as long as the dollars remain flowing.
As his home state Jets are playing abroad on a rainy weekend, New Jersey Congressman Frank Palumbo again was incredulous at what he called the continued hypocrisy of the money going into DFS and the lack of dollars flowing into the coffers of states if sports gambling was regulated. “It continues to be ridiculous, as the leagues are making more and more money from partnerships and advertising in what is becoming more and more a large business that is in effect, gambling while they continue to fight states like New Jersey in the courts,” Palumbo said. “The money that the leagues are making may be going to pay the legal bills of all the lawyers engaged in lawsuits to block what is a fair proposal to legalize sports betting, where it could be going into areas that will help the community (through taxes collected). Everyone is making money except the states on this.”
While Palumbo was not aware of the latest deal with the NFL and DraftKings overseas, he was aware of the fact that DraftKings now has a legal betting license in the UK, which in his opinion again blurs the line between “fantasy” and legal sports betting. “The loophole was created not for the massive amounts of money that everyone from the leagues, and now the players (referring to the NFLPA deal with DraftKings this week) and the teams are benefitting from, it was created for casual fans who wanted to engage in fantasy sports with little to no cost,” he said. “This is now a massive multi-million dollar business and we need to look at it and make some hard decisions on where these dollars should be going.” Palumbo’s well documented fight maintains that the legalization of sports betting will put money back into municipalities through taxes and would help bring organized crime away from sports gambling. On Thursday at the NYVC Sports Advertising Week event in New York, Washington Wizards and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis estimated that the figure in illegal gambling on a football may be as high as $800 billion, compared to the $8 billion legally wagered in Las Vegas on NFL Sundays. Like Palumbo, Leonsis felt those dollars could help offset costs with everything ranging from improving infrastructure to maintaining school programs.
As far as what’s next for Palumbo’s fight on Capitol Hill, he said that a hearing is expected in the coming months before winter recess, and could be as early as the next month, with a bipartisan group looking very closely at the DFS issue with professional sports and then deciding on potential next steps not just on fantasy but on sports betting as well, either on the state level or on a full federally regulated program.
“What we are suggesting is very fair for all involved, and will hold people accountable,” he said. “Many of the leagues continue to say they are not involved in gambling, yet there are millions being spent every week that they, especially the NFL now, are taking advantage of, and you can’t have it both ways.”
Rugby, soccer or NFL this weekend in London? Safe bet all will have wagering, and that’s no fantasy.